5 Best DNA Tests for Ancestry (2019 UPDATE) Read This BEFORE You Buy

Best DNA Test for Ancestry

How to Choose the DNA Testing Kit That’s Best for You

Here are the best DNA tests

Updated: October 2019

If you’ve read all the DNA test reviews, and are still confused, read on. This guide will give you the answers you need to those and many more questions. But first, here’s a comparison table of all the services mentioned in this article:

I’ve done the hard work…the best DNA tests for 2019

AncestryDNA MyHeritage FamilyTree DNA 23andMe LivingDNA
Website View Website View Website View Website View Website View Website
Best for Genealogy, matches, ethnicity regions (view website) Global matches, tools for advanced genetic genealogy (view website) Distant ancestry, YDNA, mtDNA (view website) Genetic health testing (view website) British Isles ancestry (view website)
Price See latest price
See latest price
sale ends tomorrow!
See latest price
See latest price
See latest price
Ethnicity results Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ethnic Regions (click for more detail) 500+ 42 24 1,000+ 80 (in depth for UK)
Family Matching Yes Yes Yes Yes Limited
Database Size 15 million 1.4 million 850k 1 million None
Y-DNA Test No No Yes Broad haplogroup, no matching Broad haplogroup, no matching
mtDNA Test No No Yes Broad haplogroup, no matching Broad haplogroup, no matching
Collection Method Saliva Cheek swab Cheek swab Saliva Cheek swab
Chromosome Browser No Yes Yes Yes No
Raw Data Upload No Yes Yes No Yes
Health Info No For extra fee No For extra fee No

* Prices may vary; check websites for the latest prices before ordering. In addition to the cost of the test, most companies charge $10-12 for shipping. We earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post which help support this site.

DNA Testing Buyer’s Guide

For centuries, genealogists have relied on oral and written records to trace their family trees. But around the year 2000, the age of genealogical DNA testing was launched. This provided genealogists and family historians with an opportunity to use well-established scientific methods to prove relationships and ancestry.

Compared to paper records, which may be incomplete or inaccurate, DNA testing is precise. But is it right for you?

And if so, which test is right for you? How do you take it? How much does it cost? Which company should you use?

What is DNA?

Before we jump into DNA testing, let’s talk about what DNA is.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is found in every living cell everywhere. It is a long chemical chain that tells our cells how to grow and act.

DNA is divided up into chromosomes, or major blocks, which are in turn divided into genes.

Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 in all) arranged in a double helix.

We each get 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father.

In humans, the 23rd chromosome is either an X-chromosome or a Y-chromosome, and determines if we are male or female.

Women have two X-chromosomes, while men have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome.

It may sound a little confusing, but this is important to understand, because there are different types of DNA testing.

Types of DNA Tests

There are three main types of DNA tests used in genealogy.

Each one works a little differently, and tells you different things.

Naturally, that means that each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

Autosomal DNA Tests

Autosomal DNA is that DNA that does not contribute to gender; in other words, the first 22 pairs of chromosomes.

Because it does not rely on the 23rd chromosome, autosomal DNA tests can be done in both men and women with the same results.

What is an autosomal DNA test?

Autosomal DNA tests are by far the most popular for consumers. This is the test that gives you ethnicity estimates as well as family matches.

This test examines single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), or the different “shapes” of individual nucleotides, small chunks of DNA.

Genealogical autosomal DNA tests examine about 700,000 SNPs to determine how closely related you are to someone else.

Remember that half our DNA comes from our father and half from our mother.

Going back in generations, that means that roughly one-fourth of our DNA comes from each of our grandparents, one-eighth from each of our great-grandparents, and so on. These percentages are never exact since DNA inheritance and recombination is completely random.

The further you go back, the less DNA you have inherited from a particular ancestor, and the harder it is to prove that you are related.

So autosomal DNA tests are only useful for about 6-8 generations.

What It Tells You

Most people who do an autosomal test do so for ethnicity estimates. Autosomal tests will give you a set of ethnicity results based on how your DNA compares to reference populations created by the testing company.

For genealogical purposes, the main use of autosomal DNA testing is to find relatives and determine how closely related you are to someone else.

This can be especially useful if you know very little about your parents or grandparents and are having a hard time locating living relatives.

Many times, relatives located by the test are researching the same family lines as you, and you can share research with them.

Every company mentioned in this guide offers autosomal DNA tests. Again, it is by far the most popular test for consumers.

Mitochondrial DNA Testing (mtDNA)

Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is genetic material inside mitochondria, small components found inside every cell and which have their own separate DNA strands.

mtDNA is passed down exclusively from females. Both males and females inherit their mtDNA from their mothers, therefore anyone can take this test.

Because mtDNA does not include a combination of DNA from both parents, it does not change with every generation.

In fact, mtDNA changes extremely slowly – it might remain exactly the same for dozens of generations!

How It Works

While autosomal DNA testing looks at the 22 pairs of autosomes inside the cell nucleus, mtDNA testing looks at the DNA inside the mitochondria which exists outside the cell nucleus.

Among other things, that means the test only has to examine about 16,500 genetic base pairs, instead of the 3.2 billion base pairs found in our DNA.

The test normally looks at only specific portions of the mtDNA and compares them to established samples.

What It Tells You

mtDNA gives very precise and accurate ancestry results, but only for the maternal line.

results, but only for the maternal line.

That is, it tells you about your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, and so on, back through time.

But it can’t tell you about any of your other ancestors, such as your mother’s father or any of your father’s ancestors.

An mtDNA test will also identify how closely related you are to a haplogroup.

A haplogroup is basically a group of people with a single common ancestor.

Historically, everyone living in the same region might belong to the same haplogroup, or very closely related ones.

This means that your haplogroup can identify where your maternal line originated.

It could also help you locate distant relatives, but some of them could be very distant (thousands of years).

In some cases, mtDNA can remain nearly identical for 50 generations or more. This makes it difficult to use mtDNA matching for genealogical purposes. A perfect match means you are related, but you might be 48th cousins!

The only company to offer individual mitochondrial DNA kits is FamilyTreeDNALiving DNA  and 23andMe bundle very basic mtDNA testing with their autosomal DNA test.

Y-DNA Tests

The 23rd human chromosome has two versions, the X and the Y.

Women have two X-chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y.

Y-DNA testing kits examine only the Y-chromosome, therefore only males can take this test. If you’re a woman who wants to test your father’s Y-DNA male line, you’ll need to test your father, uncle, brother, male cousin, etc. Basically any male on your direct paternal line. Testing the oldest generation possible is always best.

Because you can only get a Y-chromosome from your father, and he from his father, that means it tends to change very little over time.

How It Works

There are actually two sub-tests with Y-DNA testing.

The first is a short tandem repeat (STR) test. The STR test categorizes sections of the DNA according to how often a certain genetic pattern repeats.

The second is a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) test. It works the same way as in autosomal DNA testing, but it only tests about 30,000 SNPs instead of 700,000.

What It Tells You

The STR test produces a summary of your haplotype. This can be compared to someone else’s results to determine how far back your most recent common ancestor might have lived.

An STR test is often used to determine how closely two people with the same surname are related, if at all.

The SNP test is more detailed, and among other things assigns you to a haplogroup.

A haplogroup is a group of people with one common ancestor and who lived in one or more specific regions.

Both Y-chromosome tests can help you locate relatives.

But like mtDNA, because the Y-chromosome changes slowly, you might be related many generations back. Although Y-DNA tests are much more useful for genealogy than mtDNA.

And because the Y-chromosome is only passed down through males, the test can only tell you about your direct paternal line.

The only company to offer individual Y-DNA testing kits is FamilyTreeDNA, which has three options depending on how detailed a test you want.

Y-DNA testing is especially useful for adoptees. It’s also a great ancestry test if you think you have jewish ancestry.

Living DNA and 23andMe bundles very basic Y-DNA testing with their autosomal DNA tests, but provide much less detailed results than FamilyTreeDNA.

Choosing The Test That’s Right For You

With three tests to choose from, how do you decide which is best for you?

It all depends on what you want to know.

Autosomal DNA

For most people, the autosomal DNA test is the clear winner, and it is the one test that every testing company offers.

Because your autosomal DNA comes from all of your ancestors, this test is good for finding a range of ancestors and living relatives.

It can also provide you with reasonable estimates of the ethnicity of your ancestors, or the regions of the world where they lived.

The main drawback to autosomal DNA is that it gets so jumbled together after a few generations that it becomes unreliable the further you try to go back.

Most of the time, an autosomal DNA test is only useful for about 6-8 generations.

Autosomal DNA can provide some great leads on finding others who are researching the same family tree as you.


Because mtDNA comes to you only from your mother, and from her mother, it only helps you trace one line.

You can use it to prove a common ancestor with someone else, but only in a direct maternal line.

It can, however, trace that line back a very long way – sometimes 10,000 years or more.

That can provide evidence that your mother’s maternal line came from a very specific region or ethnicity.

But it is less useful when finding living relatives.


The Y-DNA test is sort of like the mtDNA test, but it follows a direct paternal line instead.

That means a Y-DNA test can tell you about your father’s father’s father’s father, and many generations before that, but not about any of your other ancestors.

Y-DNA is most useful if you want to prove a connection to a certain ancestor.

Say that you have a common surname, like Smith, and want to know if you are related to someone else named Smith.

A Y-DNA can prove (or disprove) that the two of you are related.

Like the mtDNA test, Y-DNA may let you trace a line back for dozens of generations.

It can also tell you the ethnicity or region of origin of your paternal line.

One major drawback to a Y-DNA test is that only males have Y-DNA, so only males can take the test.

However, a woman can still find Y-DNA results by having a close male relative take it for her, such as her brother, father, paternal uncle, or cousin by a paternal uncle (but not her son, since he got his Y-chromosome from his paternal line, not hers).

In the same way, you can trace other paternal lines by asking an appropriate family member to take the test and share the results with you.

Ethnicity Testing

All three of the DNA tests can provide you with information on where your ancestors lived.

But the information they provide varies from test to test.

  • Y-DNA and mtDNA tests will link you to very specific genetic lines, but keep in mind, they represent only a fraction of your family tree.
  • Autosomal DNA testing is what’s used for ethnicity testing of your entire family tree.

The companies that provide DNA testing divide the world up into regions in different ways. Each company has different ways of doing this.

That means that two different testing companies may give you different ethnicity estimates for the exact same DNA.

As more and more data get collected, companies update their regions, too.

Some companies have had problems with their ethnicity estimates in the past. AncestryDNA, for example, used to be well-known for overestimating Scandinavian ancestry.

But the accuracy of estimates is constantly improving as more data are collected, and there’s no clear indication that one company is more accurate than the others.

When a company does improve its ethnicity estimates, your profile will automatically be updated, too. You won’t have to retake the test to get the new results, but you will have to visit their site. Chances are they will not email you with the update.

Regions Versus Countries

It’s important to keep in mind that any DNA test will typically give a region of origin, not a country.

That’s because countries have changed many times throughout human history, and even within your lifetime!

Consider the case of Alsace-Lorraine, a 5,600 square mile region on the border of France and Germany.

Before the 17th century, the area was entirely Germanic (even though Germany as a country didn’t exist at the time).

During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was annexed by France.

In 1871, following the Franco-Prussian War, it was annexed by Germany.

Following World War I, it was returned to France.

So how can you say if your ancestors from that area were German or French using only DNA?

You can’t.

You can only say that your ancestors came from that region.

And because of all the migration and intermarrying across borders, the results you get aren’t going to be that specific, anyway.

Chances are they’ll bundle Germany and France together, and simply tell you those ancestors came from continental western Europe.

Native American Ancestry

​Can DNA testing determine Native American ancestry?

Many people in the United States want to know if they have any Native American ancestry, and if so, from what tribes.

The good news is DNA testing can, in some cases, tell you if you have Native American ancestors.

An autosomal DNA test will provide an ethnicity report, but keep in mind it only goes back about 6-8 generations.

Y-DNA and mtDNA tests go back much further, but only in one single family line each.

The bad news is none of the tests can tell you what tribe your ancestors may have come from, nor can they be used as proof of ancestry when it comes to applying for tribal rolls.

The best any of them can say is the general region of North or South America where your ancestors likely lived.

See our complete guide to Native American DNA tests.

Getting Started With a DNA Test

If you’ve read this far, then chances are you are seriously considering having a genealogical DNA test done.

But I’m sure you still have a lot of questions, such as which DNA kit is best, how much it costs, how long it takes, and more.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

How is the DNA Collected?

DNA is collected either with a cheek swab or a saliva sample, depending on which company you use.

For the most part, there’s no advantage to one method over the other. 

However, if the person being tested is very young (too young to be told to spit in the tube) or very old (and can’t produce enough saliva), the cheek swab might be easier.

Right now, the AncestryDNA and 23andMe DNA test kits use saliva samples; other companies use cheek swabs.

What Happens Next?

Once you’ve gathered your DNA sample, simply return it to the company for processing.

It will usually take six to ten weeks for your sample to be processed – but could take longer after the holidays since DNA tests are a popular gift.

Once your test is finished, you’ll be emailed with the test results.

Depending on the company and the test, your results may include:

  • your raw data
  • ethnicity estimates
  • lists of potential relatives

How Much Does It Cost

Prices vary based on company and test.

Autosomal DNA tests by themselves usually run $69 to $99.

The only company to offer separate Y-DNA and mtDNA tests is Family Tree DNA. These tests will cost you a few hundred dollars, depending on the number of markers tested.

As mentioned above, LivingDNA and 23andMe bundle in basic Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. But they only test a limited number of markers, and do not provide any matching. They really only give you haplogroup information.

23andMe offers a combined genealogy and health report for a single fee.

Health reports can identify if you carry the genes for a few dozen different diseases or conditions, which could signal future health risks for you or your children.​

In addition to the cost of the test, most companies also charge $10 to $12 for shipping.

See the table at the top of this page for a full comparison.

Buy It As A Gift

You can also buy any of these DNA testing kits as a gift for other family members. Amazingly, you can even buy an ancestry test for your dog! (see our guide to dog DNA tests here)

This is a good way to increase accuracy by comparing test results.

It also lets women use the Y-DNA test by having a male relative take it for them.

Choosing a Company

The number of options for genealogical DNA testing services has increased over the years.

All of these testing kits sites offer autosomal DNA testing.

All of them will provide you with a geographical breakdown of where your ancestors lived.

Beyond that, each one has its pros and cons.

Here are five biggest companies, listed based on how useful overall I think they are for genealogy.


AncestryDNA is the best choice when it comes to genealogy. They have the most extensive database of DNA results for comparison and many other features for genealogists. Read our full AncestryDNA review.

Ancestry DNA Test Kit
Pros Cons
  • Database of over 15 million customers for matching
  • Very strong genealogical community
  • Can connect with matches through anonymous email and message boards
  • Can link your DNA results to your online family tree
  • Stores your results indefinitely
  • No longer offers separate mtDNA or Y-DNA tests
  • Members can opt out of sharing their DNA results, so it may be harder to find and contact matches
  • Requires an ongoing subscription to view family trees of your matches
  • Does not allow raw data uploads from other sites

You do not have to have an Ancestry subscription in order to take their test or see your results. You also do not need a subscription to build your own family tree.

A subscription allows you to view genealogical records, view the family tree’s of your matches, and compare your tree with your match to find common ancestors. There are of course many other features on the research side of your genealogy.

Ancestry offers a 14 day free trial which you can get here.

MyHeritage DNA

MyHeritage is a great choice if you’re looking for matches outside the United States. They seem to have the biggest database of international customers. They also offer some pretty neat tools such as auto clustering and a chromosome browser.

Read our full MyHeritage DNA review. Also, check out our complete comparison of MyHeritage vs AncestryDNA.

MyHeritage DNA Test Kit
Pros Cons
  • Largest database of international customers to be matched with
  • Link your DNA results to your online family tree
  • Allows free upload of raw data from other sites
  • Covers 42 ethnic regions
  • Relatively small (but rapidly growing) database compared to other sites. Currently 1.4 million


The best for distant ancestry (beyond 6-8 generations), and paternity testing. One major perk is, even if you do get your testing done by a different company, FamilyTreeDNA lets you upload your raw data into their system as well. Read our full Family Tree DNA review.

), and paternity testing. One major perk is, even if you do get your testing done by a different company, FamilyTreeDNA lets you upload your raw data into their system as well. Read our full Family Tree DNA review.

Family Tree DNA Test Kit
Pros Cons
  • Only company to offer all three tests individually
  • Only company to offer Y-DNA and mtDNA matching
  • Cheek swab DNA collection (much easier for babies and elderly)
  • Allows free upload of raw data from tests run for other sites
  • Has a chromosome browser, which lets you compare two or more sets of DNA results to see segment overlap
  • Surname, haplogroup and other group projects you can join
  • Has a smaller database of people than sites like Ancestry (since it’s not as popular to the mass market), so you might miss some matches
  • Does not offer health-related testing


In terms of genealogy, 23andMe would not be my first choice. The main advantage of 23andMe is health testing which means that most people who test there aren’t as interested in family history or communicating with matches as compared to sites like Ancestry.

It is the only site that offers health-related DNA testing. Read our complete 23andMe review. Also check out our complete comparison of 23andMe vs Ancestry.

23andMe DNA Test Kit
Pros Cons
  • Only site to offer health and wellness reports
  • Has a large database of more than 1 million customers
  • Includes a chromosome browser for comparing results
  • Very limited genealogical community compared to other sites
  • No Y-DNA or mtDNA matching
  • Does not allow upload of raw data from other sites
  • Health and wellness test is not part of the basic fee, it costs extra

Living DNA

If you have any British or Irish ancestry, you’ll definitely want to do an ancestry test with LivingDNA. Based in the UK, LivingDNA specializes in “high definition” DNA testing in the British Isles and can narrow into the exact regions of your ancestry in the British Isles.

Because of the lack of a customer database (and matches), I would also test with another company in addition to LivingDNA.

See our complete LivingDNA review.

Living DNA Test Kit
Pros Cons
  • Divides the world into many more, smaller regions than other services
  • Has 21 regional categories for the British Isles alone, and 80 (in depth for UK) worldwide
  • No separate autosomal DNA only test, so highest overall price
  • Very limited customer database

Which Test Is Best For You?

It depends on your goals…

Here are the best DNA tests

Updated: October 2019

Is It Worth It?

So is genealogical DNA testing right for you?

In the end, is it really worth the cost and bother?


Even if genealogy is only an occasional hobby for you, these tests can provide you with some very enlightening insights into your family history.

And for the serious genealogist, it is getting to the point where they are nearly essential.

Genealogical DNA testing is finally accurate enough, inexpensive enough, and useful enough for connecting with your family. I recommend it to everyone interested in learning more about their roots.

External References & Citations

Updated October 16, 2019

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Mark, Nice simple break down, +1 for visuals 🙂 I was surprised how recent this post is (usually I find random old blogs from simple search) and also that you actually respond to comments!!! Read entire post and didn’t find anything that would suggest one way or the other for me. So I am from Moldova between Ukraine and Romania -former USSR (only giving that to locate the region). Language my parents speak is a dialect of Turkish (both, moms and dads family), I am interested to know more of background. Is there any company that is better to use… Read more »


Hello there!! I’ve just started doing research into my whole family tree. I really want to know where I come from more exactly since I was told German and Scottish on my father’s side. But, have no idea whatsoever on my mother’s side. My dad and mom is wanting to be tested for each of their family lineage. So, would it be worth me also taking an autosomal test like family tree dna or ancestry dna? If so which one is recommended? I would like preferably to start from great-grandparents and hopefully go beyond my 3x great-grandparents. I’m sorry for… Read more »


Hi Mark

Many thanks for the detailed and nicely written comparison!

I was looking at getting an AncestryDNA test done and both my parents are also interested in doing it. I was wondering though, is there any benefit in me taking the test when both of them are?

Thanks for your help!

Nancy Van Wieren

Hi Mark,
My Daughter recently lost her father at 58 to cancer. Everyone from his side of the family has died from cancer. My side is a history of anorisms which she now gets a ultrasound every year for this issue. What company would you recommend for a health check in regards to cancer or would the test not be helpful in this area.

Matt P

Hello Mark, Thank you all of this amazing information! I’d like to buy a kit for my wife for Christmas and hope you might give me a recommendation based on her needs: She doesn’t want to connect with people, she only wants to know her true heritage. However, the Native American possibility is on her Father’s side. 23andMe is offering $49.99 if you buy 2 kits today equaling $100. I could get one for her, one for her Father. If I went with FTDNA it would cost $129 for the Y-DNA and $169 for the mt-DNA for a total of… Read more »

Ron Macdonald

Hi Mark
Thanks for a great explanation. I am researching my family tree back to 12th century but the tree follows the male line for several generations and then crosses over to the female line before resuming with male ancestors. Can you recommend the best company and test for that particular scenario?




Hi Mark,

This is an excellent article. My father is deceased and has no male siblings and no male children. Is it possible to trace my paternal line through my sons? Also, I am african-american women and would like to trace my family tree as far back as possible and confirm/deny some of the oral family history that has been passed down about my ethnicity. Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you in advance.


Thank you for this easy to read review. Our 11 year old daughter was adopted and is curious about her ethnicity, we have no information to give her and I have been trying to decide for over a month now which to buy. In particular, we want privacy now as she is a minor but want to give her options later down the road to connect with birth relatives. After reading your review we decided to go with Family Tree DNA. We are excited for her!


Thanks so much for the info! If I was looking only to do an autosomal test, Do you think purchasing from Ancestry then transfering the raw data to familytreedna and myheritage would be the best solution, since id get analysis from 3 companies for the price of one?


Thanks for all the research on dna test. I still am not sure which test to get for me and my son. We did one and it showed Asian heritage, no specific German heritage which I know I have from genololgy on my family side. My son is supposed to be Native American and Irish but this did not show up. Which test do you feel would be the best for us to find out what all are ethinicities are.? We are just curious.
Thanks for your help. Becky


Hi Mark, I want to gift my husband a DNA test. I am so thankful for your article, as it’s the most clear and informative. However, I am still a newbie and wanted to know what you would suggest for my husband. He has never met his father and is unsure of his ethnicity. His mother is African American but his family has told him his father’s name and given him a description that possibly matches someone of Hispanic ethnicity with bright red hair…again, this is only a guess. We are not so interested in finding his father(though this is… Read more »


Hi Mark. Thanks for all the info. This was a very good read! I wonder if I am thinking correctly with what I want for my daughter. She is 13 and interested in ethnicity, and I want to get her a DNA kit for Christmas. I’m not interested in finding family members or having to pay a monthly fee to get the full potential of my data. I just want something that gives a good breakdown on where her family is from. I wondered about 23andme. Would I have her get a test and her dad as well to get… Read more »


Hi Mark,
Thank you so much for the valuable information but I am still a bit confused. I would like to buy a kit for my stepsister who’s known heritage is Native American, German and British. I think a simple test that would reveal her ancestry and regions for both maternal and paternal linage would be best. Which would you recommend for this? I would really appreciate any and all help with this purchase.
Thank you!


Hi Mark I’m very confused. I was born in NZ but have English, Scottish and Polish/German ancestry. I had an autosomal test done with My Heritage and the results were weird! The English and Celtic showed up, but so did some Finnish and Norwegian. Well I guess that possibly the Scandinavian results would be way back when they probably invaded Scotland, that’s the only link I can figure there. However NO Polish/German DNA came up at all but instead 17% Greek turned up. There has never been any Greek in any of my families so I am wondering, is it… Read more »


Hi Mark, just a question please. My Dad who has been passed away since June 1998, used to tell us throughout our childhood that we were Native American. My Mom whom recently passed on September 2017, also stated Native American on her Mom’s side, whom also passed away years ago. Since there’s so much Native American running through our family line, which DNA test do you recommend? So Much Appreciated Thanks

Sue Smith

Thanks for the informative website. My husband is adopted. I’m planning to get testing for him as a gift to find out about his background and to be able to identify/contact possible relatives. I am wondering which is the best site to use. From what I’ve read here I am thinking about Ancestry.com but I really didn’t want to pay a monthly fee, I just want the info from a one time test. What do you recommend? Thanks. (Although we don’t know, but he looks like he might have Irish heritage)


Hi Mark. Great article. Thanks! I want to buy a kit for me and my 4 sons for Christmas. It’s basically just for our fun. Which kit would you recommend I purchase?


Dear Mark,
Thank you for writing the article, I am still not sure which test to go with, I am looking to find any living relatives I am not aware of, but also I would like to see where my ancestors came from as far back as possible. I would like to see the migration of my ancestors and also to see if I am related to any historical persons. Can you recommend any test? I guess I would like to find out as much as I can. 🙂


Want “Best Bang for the Buck” testing @ Family Tree DNA. Looking to make this our “Family” Christmas Gift this year.

Available test subjects:

1. Me: Female (No spouse or Children😥
2. My Brother
3. My Brothers Spouse
4. My Nephew
5. My Niece

Would like as much detail as possible for individuals listed as well as for immediate siblings of My Brother’s Spouse. What is/are best testing options at least cost?

Would having only My Nephew “Bundle Tested” for Autosomal + Y-DNA + mtDNA tell each of us the most about our ancestry for the least $’s?
Any help much appreciated.


Hi Mark, Thanks for all the great info. Can you give me a recommendation on which kit would be best? I’m adopted and would like to find relatives in Europe and go back as far as possible to find my roots. My biological parents are both either first generation or second generation Americans. I have a birth brother who is willing to do the testing too, so we can test for yDNA. But, I’m not sure if just doing the autosomal test will give the results I’m looking for. I was thinking of either FTDNA or 23andme. With FTDNA I’m… Read more »


If you’re an adopted female; know some about your mother’s origins, but nothing of your father’s, but want to know as much as possible about both birth parent, which company and test within that company do you suggest. Keep in mind this particular person was raised in Scotland.

Thank you!



Hi! What a great article! I am searching for a gift for my mom. She’s most interested in learning where her family is from, not so much identifying and finding anyone. Her background she believes is primarily in Europe. I am concerned some of the companies may not do deep dives into Europe but more so in the US. Which company would you recommend I use? Thanks in advance!


Hi mark, Your article is very helpful but still not sure which site would best suit my situation. I was hoping you would be able to direct me in choosing the right test for my situation. My maternal grandparents were gypsies. I was told that they were Russian, Hungarian, polish and maybe some Jewish. My father was from Sicily. My mother had a so. That she gave up for adoption 50 years ago that would be nice if we could possibly find. Is there a test that could not only validate heritage and region but be more specific and possibly… Read more »



You may want to update at least a couple things from the past couple years.
1) Ancestry’s DB is now at what, 6 million rather than 2 million?
2) Not all Geno 2.0 Next Generation testers can transfer data to FTDNA. The more recent US kits are done by Helix now. Non-US kits are still Gene-By-Gene. You can see this when you go to the site to order and choose your country.


Hi Mark

I hope you can direct me and help me choice the right DNA test. I know very little about my mother and nothing about my father. I feel like I fell to the earth alone. I have zero information to share. I would like to find out who and where my father comes from. Is this something you can help me with. I really want to take a test but I want to take the right one.

Thanks for your help


This was an excellent article. I do have a question though. I’m mostly curious what countries my DNA represents. Also my grandfather was adopted? But as far as I know from what I’m told by my parents I’m half Finn half Swede. I’m just wondering if a dna test will break that down anymore or not?

Michele McBrayer

Wow Mark thank you so much, wish all sites were as informative and unbiased as yours when I do research. Good on ya!!!!!


I have blanks on both sides of my family tree (paternal grandfather was adopted, and maternal grandfather may be an unknown person), so if I understand your article correctly, I can only discover my full heritage (what comes from each side) by doing all three tests (the autosomal, the M one and the F one). Expensive, unfortunately. I am seeking heritages first, and discovering any living relatives as more of a bonus. The problem is, I am female. It appears I can only get my father’s lineage information if my brother gets tested (our father and grandfather is gone). First,… Read more »


Hi Mark,
Thanks for the informative article. I am planning to get my kids ( 2 boys & 1 girl )
DNA test for Christmas, all have same parents. My question is, should I get 1 son the YDNA test, 1 son the autosomal test and my daughter the mtDNA? Would this help them cover more accurate ethnicity?
Thank you,


Hi Mark, thanks for this review article! I’m Dutch and already know my Y is I-M253 (family member tested FTDNA Y12…). Do you know one of the cheaper tests (Living, 23) provide more details on subclades? Otherwise I could just take an even cheaper autosomal only test (sorry, Dutch 😅). Thanks!